Quick Notes About the Unemployment Rate
Please consider the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) June 2013 Employment Report.
Month to Month Changes
Hours and Wages
Private average weekly hours of production and non-supervisory workers were flat at 33.7 hours. Average weekly hours of all employees was flat at 34.5 hours. Average hourly earnings of all private workers rose $0.10 to $24.01. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and non-supervisory employees was up $0.05 to $20.14.
Real wages have been declining. Add in increases in state taxes and the average Joe has been hammered pretty badly. For 2013, one needs to factor in the increase in payroll taxes for Social Security.
For further discussion of income distribution, please see What's "Really" Behind Gross Inequalities In Income Distribution?
The BLS Birth/Death Model is an estimation by the BLS as to how many jobs the economy created that were not picked up in the payroll survey.
The Birth-Death numbers are not seasonally adjusted, while the reported headline number is. In the black box the BLS combines the two, coming up with a total.
The Birth Death number influences the overall totals, but the math is not as simple as it appears. Moreover, the effect is nowhere near as big as it might logically appear at first glance.
Birth/Death assumptions are supposedly made according to estimates of where the BLS thinks we are in the economic cycle. Theory is one thing. Practice is clearly another as noted by numerous recent revisions.
Once again: Do NOT subtract the Birth-Death number from the reported headline number. That approach is statistically invalid.
In general, analysts attribute much more to birth-death numbers than they should. Except at economic turns, BLS Birth/Death errors are reasonably small.
For a discussion of how little birth-death numbers affect actual monthly reporting, please see BLS Birth/Death Model Yet Again.
Table A-15 is where one can find a better approximation of what the unemployment rate really is.
Notice I said "better" approximation not to be confused with "good" approximation.
The official unemployment rate is 7.6%. However, if you start counting all the people who want a job but gave up, all the people with part-time jobs that want a full-time job, all the people who dropped off the unemployment rolls because their unemployment benefits ran out, etc., you get a closer picture of what the unemployment rate is. That number is in the last row labeled U-6.
U-6 is much higher at 14.3%. Both numbers would be way higher still, were it not for millions dropping out of the labor force over the past few years.
Labor Force Factors
Were it not for people dropping out of the labor force, the unemployment rate would be over 10%. In addition, there are 8,226,000 people who are working part-time but want full-time work.
Digging under the surface, much of the drop in the unemployment rate over the past two years is nothing but a statistical mirage coupled with a massive increase in part-time jobs starting in October 2012 as a result of Obamacare legislation.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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